Consumer news

Online Payment Firm Acteva Acknowledges Multimillion-Dollar Debt to Charities, Blames Cash-Flow Problem

Alex Kekauoha, San Francisco Public Press — Dec 9 2013 - 3:25pm

The top executive of Acteva, a San Francisco-based payment processing company, says he has a plan to dig out of $4 million to $5 million in debt and repay online donations owed to nonprofit organizations across the country. Still, some creditors — including a community college, an environmental group, an agricultural cooperative and a regional journalism organization — say they are owed tens of thousands of dollars each, and question whether the business will ever refund the money. Some are now taking legal action.

S.F.’s Minimum Wage, Highest in the Nation, Eludes Thousands as Enforcement Efforts Face Obstacles

Aaron Tilley and Michael Stoll, San Francisco Public Press — May 1 2013 - 11:07am

10-year-old reform unfinished as businesses routinely flout $10.55 mandate, labor activists say

This story is part of a special report in the Spring print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

While San Francisco’s minimum wage is the highest in the nation, thousands of workers still earn below the current mandate of $10.55 an hour, say economists, anti-poverty activists and public officials. It has been 10 years since voters passed the groundbreaking labor reform, and the city has built a first-of-its-kind inspection team that has recovered back wages for more than 3,000 workers. But these efforts appear to have addressed only a fraction of the problem. ALSO: Listen to discussion of S.F.'s minimum wage enforcement on KALW Radio’s “Your Call” Friday Media Roundtable.

Testing Online Privacy Limits, OKCupid Lets Strangers Read Intimate Messages

Rachel Swan, SF Public Press — Mar 25 2013 - 2:19pm

Users on the popular dating site OKCupid.com might not be aware of it, but fellow participants have been tapped to be community moderators, who have access to private correspondence. Those with access to the “moderation” button often are checking accounts that have been flagged for possible terms of service violations. But they also get to eavesdrop on what many users assumed to be private conversations.

How the Profits Upkeep Commission Helps PG&E Pick Your Pocket

David Cay Johnston, Special to SF Public Press — Nov 26 2012 - 1:34pm

The next time you pass a power pole consider this: Pacific Gas & Electric expects that pole to be there until the year 2357 and perhaps until 2785. The average PG&E pole has just nine years of useful life left, according to PG&E’s sworn testimony asking for more money to speed pole replacement. It got money through rate hikes to replace poles on a 50-year cycle, but it has been replacing them on a 346 to 778 year cycle while, by PG&E’s own testimony, diverting that money to other purposes.

Food Prices at Center of Debate Over GMO Labeling in Prop 37

Ambika Kandasamy, SF Public Press — Oct 29 2012 - 12:20pm

Proposition 37, the state ballot measure requiring labels on genetically modified food, has revived a long-simmering debate about whether genetically modified food harms human health or the environment. But it’s the claim by opponents that food prices would increase that is riling proponents.

S.F. civil grand jury slams restaurant health care surcharges

Barbara Grady, SF Public Press — Jul 19 2012 - 5:49pm

San Francisco’s civil grand jury on Thursday chastised many of the city’s restaurants for profiting from surcharges they add to customers’ bills under the name of paying for health care and recommended that the city ban the practice.

San Francisco pitched as beacon of ‘collaborative consumption’

Michael Stoll, SF Public Press — Apr 4 2012 - 5:22pm

San Francisco’s current crop of leaders ran for office on a platform of deploying city resources to encourage private-sector job growth — which in this famously liberal city is seen as about as conservative as an elected official can get. But last week a task force convened by Mayor Ed Lee and four members of the Board of Supervisors opened an opportunity to expand the meaning of the pro-business moniker to a new crop of startup, do-gooder social enterprises that enable small-scale, peer-to-peer economic activity and resource sharing.

State says lax rules might let builders use questionable licenses

Les Mahler, SF Public Press — Mar 26 2012 - 9:13am

This story appears in the Spring 2012 print edition of the San Francisco Public Press.

The agency overseeing companies that build houses and office buildings across California has for years trumpeted its ability to sniff out phony contractors, often publishing photos of dramatic undercover police stings of unlicensed builders at work on half-finished suburban cul-de-sacs. But now the agency, the Contractors State License Board, is looking into a problem of the state’s own making — a program that allows contractors to essentially lease out their licenses.

100% ad-free news for the 99%

Michael Stoll, SF Public Press — Dec 30 2011 - 3:15pm

In the Public Press, elites don’t dictate coverage

If you missed it, the Winter 2011 edition of the Public Press (Issue 5) went on sale in November, and it came on the heels of a national conversation about how to fund and fortify community journalism. This is the editorial on page 2.

Issue 5 of the San Francisco Public Press, an ad-free nonprofit local newspaper, takes cues from noncommercial magazines, some of which have become influential of late. One model was Adbusters, the “culturejammer” magazine that inspired the global Occupy movement. Our approach at the Public Press has always been to look for stories that see the city and the Bay Area from the viewpoint of average people instead of just the elites, whose concerns are well represented. While we don’t practice advocacy journalism, we do strive to cover, in depth, stories and communities that commercially funded media don’t often pay attention to.

Sharing skills during the holidays

Ambika Kandasamy, Shareable.net — Dec 23 2011 - 1:08pm

With the holiday festivities swiftly approaching in a year marked by global protests over economic inequality, people in the Bay Area are turning to alternate, community-based means of exchanging goods and skills. Collectives like the Timebank help people circumvent buying gifts with money during the holidays. “The systemic way in which the economy works undermines every good that we try to do,” said Mira Luna, co-founder of the local nonprofit Bay Area Community Exchange, an organization that has been facilitating trades of talents and commodities using time rather than money as the currency. “There’s a lot of underutilized resources and a lot of needs out of there.”

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